Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Welcome to Jazz Age Wednesdays. Summer is in full force and so is the diesel-punk train! It’s great to see all you Sheiks and Shebas here at the station.
You already know that this story is unplanned. I write it spontaneously as artist, illustrator, and “co-conspirator” Rob Goldstein sends new groups of “three things.” However, that doesn’t mean that once I get a thing I don’t have to figure out how to evolve what exists of the plot to make it go with the thing. (Did that make sense?) This time it was taking me awhile to do that — get the characters, location, and the events that have happened so far — to mesh with the next thing. So this episode doesn’t have a true thing. I simply gave it a title.
Previously with Hullaba Lulu
Due to sabotage to the Tesla coil, Valentino’s train passed into a painting. Heroic efforts by the clockwork angel-bots brought everyone back onto the train. However, they’re all still worried about Valentino. Back at the Cotton Club he said that he didn’t have long to live. Valentino’s health continues to diminish because of the damage to his connection with the train.
As the train traveled, Lulu caught a glimpse of mysterious and huge multicolored wings.
Finally the train thudded into the sands of Egypt. However, outside there were two Egypts and one of them was upside-down — people there were the opposite of what they were in our world. Rose spotted the opposite version of Tom Driberg there and she parted company with us to be with him.
The story picks up where Chapter 10.3 ended. Now to Chapter 11.1. Do you hear Valentino’s trumpet?
My hand was on the door to the “upside-down” Egypt. I couldn’t just let Rose leave to be with Tom when he had caused so much trouble for her. He willingly put her life in danger for the sake of his espionage.
Yet when I saw the way that Tom looked at Rose I removed my hand from the door. The angel-bot, Moon, had said people in that Egypt were the opposite of what they were in our world. The expression on that Tom’s face was one of innocence and pure love.
“Señorita,” Moon began but he didn’t seem to know what to say.
“No one has ever looked at me like that,” I murmured.
“Señorita, are you unwell?” Moon asked.
I used the back of my hand to wipe my nose and sniffed, mumbling that I was fine.
Then I fell flat on my rump.
The train shifted dramatically to one side. Only moments before, it had crashed into a sand dune. I supposed it was not stable. Neither was Valentino. Abruptly I was worried about what harm the unexpected motion might have caused Valentino. He was already deathly ill.
A fluttering sensation deep inside my ears caused me to shake my head. It was the oddest feeling, and it wouldn’t stop. The fluttering was like having a tiny bird caught inside my head.
It caused me to think of the large multicolored wings I glimpsed before. Right after seeing those wings I had felt something thud against the top of the train. I wondered if that impact led to its shift of position. Did whatever it was hit the train?
My head started to buzz. The lights flickered sharply, almost like the flash of a camera.
For an instant I saw a gorgeous woman wearing a long white gown. Her black hair was like a smooth sheet of onyx. In contrast to her elegance, I thought her little hat was funny. Or maybe it was a crown, but it mostly looked like a tiny chair on top of her head.
Her eyes narrowed dangerously when I met her appraising gaze. There was nothing funny about the look she gave me.
The lights flashed again and she vanished as quickly as she had appeared. I shook my head again. The fluttering sensation was gone. After seeing that woman appear and disappear, I felt my head for a bump. I didn’t remember hitting my head, and I hadn’t had a drink all day, but nobody could just pop into existence and then vanish like that. I was sure I must have been seeing things.
Feeling disoriented, I struggled to my feet and looked outside. The shift caused the train to tilt. The ground was several feet below the door. I wondered if I could jump that far without hurting myself.
I watched in unmoving astonishment as dozens of angel-bots swarmed out of the train. It looked as though the clockwork attendants were trying to right the train.
My foot caught on something and I fell again. I saw Gramps headed toward me.
“Lulu, are you all right?” my grandfather asked.
Gramps effortlessly pulled me to my feet. My grandfather’s speakeasy didn’t really need a bouncer when he was there. He was still a strong man. I wasn’t sure how I got my klutziness, but it didn’t come from him. His big mustache was perfectly groomed and his bowtie was straight. I doubted that he even stumbled when the train tilted.
“I should go check on Valentino,” I told him.
Clicking from the heels of Pearl’s oxfords preceded her. Glittering earrings that skimmed her bare shoulders swung as she walked. Pearl always wore earrings. Sometimes I thought that must be the first thing she put on in the mornings. To Pearl, the longer and more dramatic the earrings the better. However, something had spilled down the front of her beaded gown and her fair hair was mussed.
“Wicky, Wacky, and Woo are with Valentino,” Pearl told me as she walked toward us. “He was raving something, but his speech was slurred. It sounded like he kept asking about something, ‘Is it’ whatever. I asked him ‘Is what?’ but he moaned and passed out again.”
“Horsefeathers. I didn’t know he was delirious. He’s gotten worse then,” I murmured.
Gramps nodded and looked at me gravely.
“Lulu, how will we get home?” Pearl suddenly wailed.
Pearl started crying and Gramps put a fatherly arm around her shoulder. She grabbed my hand.
“I’m sorry Lulu. I shouldn’t have said what I did,” Pearl told me with a quick glance at Gramps.
I could tell that she didn’t want me to let my grandfather know what she had said. (Chapter 10.2) Pearl had spoken with heated contempt about “the kind of people” I was from, as she phrased it.
I wanted to shout at Pearl, to point out that she only apologized for saying out loud what she was thinking. That wasn’t an apology. It wasn’t any better than a thief being sorry he got caught. She hadn’t shown any regret for what she felt.
However, I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to even look at her. So instead I pretended interest in Moon’s busy tinkering.
Moon opened a narrow panel next to the door. I didn’t know what the engineering bot was trying to achieve. Moon appeared to know all the mysterious workings of Valentino’s train. With a click and a pop, the exit door opened.
It looked like the angel-bots outside had managed to brace the train to prevent it shifting again. Then one of them pointed toward the Great Pyramid in the distance. Abruptly they stopped their work. All the clockwork creatures moved toward the one who pointed.
A cloud of sand billowed behind an automobile as is sped toward us.
“This is extraordinary!” Moon exclaimed.
“What do you mean?” I asked the automaton.
“It’s Papá!” Moon cried.
Horsefeathers! Now what? Pearl wants forgiveness, but has no remorse for thinking Lulu and Gramps are second class. A strange woman flickered in for an instant, and she didn’t look too happy to see Lulu. And what the Sam Hill did Moon mean by Papá?
Be at the station next week to find out more.
I hope you’ll click over and check out Rob’s blog. You’ll find more fabulous images there, and terrific blog posts too.
Real World Notes
Earrings. Roaring Twenties fashion, including jewelry had a focus on movement. The popularity of short haircuts resulted in the trend of long and dangling earrings. Earrings became a statement piece in their own right, rather than an afterthought. Here’s an article with lovely pictures.
Did you notice the bit in this chapter about Pearl and those long earrings? Keep an eye out next time for something related to those earrings.
Stay tuned for more spontaneously written fun. Next of the random “things” Rob sent to drive Chapter 11 is Violet Ray. We’ll see where that takes this diesel-punk train and who else comes aboard!
Thanks for visiting. You’re the oyster’s earrings!
Now some shameless self-promotion for my other 1920s books — the original “three things” stories about Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip, and her friends.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Artwork Copyright © 2018 by Rob Goldstein
Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
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